Esther 2:19
And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) And when the virgins . . .—Here begins a fresh incident in the history, whose date we cannot fix precisely, save that it falls between the marriage of Esther and the twelfth year of Ahasuerus (Esther 3:7). The king “loved Esther above all the women,” but how the word “love “is degraded in this connection is seen by the fact that after she had been his wife certainly less (possibly much less) than five years, there takes place a second gathering of virgins (there is no article in the Hebrew), like the one previously mentioned (Esther 2:2). We should treat Esther 2:20 as parenthetical, and join Esther 2:21 closely to Esther 2:19.

Then Mordecai sat.—Translate, and Mordecai was sitting.

Esther 2:19. When the virgins were gathered together the second time — They in all probability were gathered together first in the provinces, and afterward in Susa, before they were taken into the house of the king’s chamberlain. The writer now goes back to what happened before Esther’s marriage. Then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate — It was ordered by Cyrus, as Xenophon informs us, Cyropaæd., lib. 8, that all persons whatever, who had any employment at court, should attend at the palace gate, where there was doubtless a proper waiting-place for their reception, that they might be in readiness whenever they were wanted or called for; and that this custom was afterward continued, we may learn from Herodotus, lib. 3. cap. 120. See Le Clerc. Mordecai has been thought by some to have been one of the porters of the royal palace; but it is probable he was an officer of higher rank. Poole thinks he was one of the king’s guard, or ministers, and that he had been advanced to this place by Esther’s favour, though without any discovery of her relation to him.2:1-20 We see to what absurd practices those came, who were destitute of Divine revelation, and what need there was of the gospel of Christ, to purify men from the lusts of the flesh, and to bring them back to the original institution of marriage. Esther was preferred as queen. Those who suggest that Esther committed sin to come at this dignity, do not consider the custom of those times and countries. Every one that the king took was married to him, and was his wife, though of a lower rank. But how low is human nature sunk, when such as these are the leading pursuits and highest worldly happiness of men! Disappointment and vexation must follow; and he most wisely consults his enjoyment, even in this present life, who most exactly obeys the precepts of the Divine law. But let us turn to consider the wise and merciful providence of God, carrying on his deep but holy designs in the midst of all this. And let no change in our condition be a pretext for forgetting our duties to parents, or the friends who have stood in their place.When the virgins ... - Rather, "when virgins" etc. The words begin a new paragraph. There was a second collection of virgins (after that of Esther 2:8), and it was at the time of this second collection that Mordecai had the good fortune to save the king's life. 17. the king loved Esther above all the women—The choice fell on Esther, who found favor in the eyes of Ahasuerus. He elevated her to the dignity of chief wife, or queen. The other competitors had apartments assigned them in the royal harem, and were retained in the rank of secondary wives, of whom Oriental princes have a great number.

he set the royal crown upon her head—This consisted only of a purple ribbon, streaked with white, bound round the forehead. The nuptials were celebrated by a magnificent entertainment, and, in honor of the auspicious occasion, "he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king." The dotation of Persian queens consisted in consigning to them the revenue of certain cities, in various parts of the kingdom, for defraying their personal and domestic expenditure. Some of these imposts the king remitted or lessened at this time.

The second time; either,

1. When Esther, with others, were brought to the king’s house, as it was decreed above, Esther 2:2,3, which is called the second time, because they had taken this course once before, when Vashti was chosen queen. But there is no mention of any such former use; and by the manner of proposing it seems to have been a new project. Or,

2. Since Esther was declared queen; for though that point was determined, the king’s lust was not yet satisfied; and therefore being pleased with the former experiment, he desired another collection of virgins, whom he might make his concubines. And this seems best to agree with the following words. For it is not probable that Mordecai sat at the king’s gate till Esther was queen; for till then he only walked before the court of the women’s house, as is expressed, Esther 2:11.

Mordecai sat in the king’s gate; either,

1. Voluntarily, to learn the progress of affairs. Or rather,

2. By office, as one of the king’s guard or ministers; being advanced to this place by Esther’s favour, though without any discovery of her relation to him. And when the virgins were gathered together the second time,.... Some think this second collection is that which was made when Esther was taken and brought to the keeper of the women, called the second, in reference to a former collection of them, made when Vashti was taken and made queen; but as there is no proof of any such collection then made, rather the case was this, such was the lust of the king, though he had a queen he loved, and a multitude of concubine's, yet a second collection of virgins was made for his gratification:

then Mordecai sat in the king's gate; or court, being an officer in it, promoted by the interest of Esther, though not as yet known to be a relation of her's: so in Xenophon (z) is used of the court of the king of Persia, as the Ottoman or Turkish court is now called the "Porte".

(z) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 2, 5, 11, 40.

And when the virgins were gathered together the {m} second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.

(m) That is, at the marriage of Esther, which was the second marriage for the king.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19–23. Mordecai’s discovery of the plot against the king’s life

19. And when the virgins were gathered together the second time] Render, Now when maidens were being gathered together a second time. There is no article attached to the word ‘virgins’ in the original, and we have no means of knowing what kind of occasion is referred to here. It is merely a conjecture that the reference is to an effort made by the officials to supplant Esther in the king’s affections by introducing to his notice such as would better support their influence. The clause is omitted in the LXX.

then Mordecai sat etc.] better, perhaps, and when Mordecai was sitting etc. In this way we have another circumstantial clause, which is added to the first, and resumed in Esther 2:21. Mordecai occupied a place at the gate of the palace properly so called, or of that division of the women’s apartments which was assigned to the queen herself (see on Esther 2:3), that he might utilise any opportunity which presented itself of communicating with his ward. His occupation of this subordinate position is accounted for in Esther 2:20, which is of the nature of a parenthesis.Verse 19. - When the virgins were gathered together. Rather, "When virgins." There is no article. The fact seems to be mentioned simply as furnishing a date, and we must suppose both that there was a second gathering, and that the time when it happened was generally known to the Jews and Persians. Then Mordecai sat, etc. The three verses, 19, 20, 21, hang together, and form a single sentence: "When virgins were gathered together a second time, and Mordecai was sitting in the king's gate - now Esther had not showed her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had charged her; for Esther did the command of Mordecai like as when she was brought up with him - in those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, being of the number of them which kept the threshold, were wroth," etc. Before relating the appearance of Esther before the king, the narrator more particularly describes in Esther 2:12-14 the preparations for this event, and how Esther behaved with respect to them.

Esther 2:12-13

"When every maid's turn came (i.e., at every time that any maid's turn came) to go in to King Ahashverosh, after the time when it had been done to her twelve months according to the law of the women - for thus were the days of their purification accomplished: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with balsam and ointments of purification for women - and the maiden came to the king, all that she desired was given her to go with her out of the women's house unto the king's house." תּור, turn in succession, used only here and Esther 2:15. The turn to go in unto the king did not come to any maid until וגו היות מקּץ, at the end of the time when it had been done to her according to the law ... This time lasted twelve months after her reception into the house of the women; and the law of the women, according to which it was done to her, was, that she should be purified for six months with oil of myrrh, and as long with בּשׂמים, sweet odours and other ointments. בּאה הנּערה וּבזה (Esther 2:13) forms the continuation of the antecedent clause commencing with כּהנּיע, or, to speak more correctly, of a second antedecent with which the conclusion כּל־אשׁר את is connected. Some expositors understand בּזה, with the lxx, of the time: illo sc. tempore; others of the condition: hoc modo ornata or ea lege (Cler.), and therefore as parallel in meaning with the כּן of Esther 4:16. Either view is admissible and suits the sense, but the latter is more in harmony with the parallel passage Esther 4:16, and therefore preferable. All that was to be given her, can only relate to ornaments and jewels, which were to be given that each might appear before the king adorned and dressed after her own taste.

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